Berlin receives another memorial. The memorial to the Sinti and Roma murdered by Nazis will then be inaugurated between the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate. A topical appointment: for months, organizations have been criticizing discrimination against Roma in the Balkans.
For the ceremonial handover by German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) on Wednesday (24.10.2012), the chairman of the Central Council of Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose, Berlin's Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit (SPD), Minister of State for Culture Bernd Neumann (CDU) and the executive artist Dani Karavan are also expected to attend the event. This also marks the end of a debate that has dragged on for more than 20 years about the meaning and form of a memorial for this group of victims. According to estimates, up to 500.000 Sinti and Roma murdered by the National Socialists.
After the memorials to the Jews and homosexuals, it is the third memorial in the Berlin center for a minority that was systematically persecuted by the National Socialists. The Bundestag had already passed the resolution in 1992. An artist competition went out in favor of Karavan. According to the design of the 81-year-old, who was born in Tel Aviv, a black stone forms the center of the monument. It is submersible and placed in the middle of a round water basin with a diameter of about twelve meters. On this stone, according to Karavan's will, there should always be a fresh wildflower. It is also to be renewed daily in winter.
Controversial dedication text
Time and again, the start of construction was postponed because of disputes over the initially planned dedication text. The Central Council of Sinti and Roma had objected to a wording endorsed by the Bundestag because it contained the word "Gypsy". Other victims' associations such as the Sinti Alliance, however, welcomed it. Finally, an agreement was reached in 2006. Instead of a dedication, there is now a "Chronology of the Genocide of Sinti and Roma". This was intended to "take the concerns of the victims' associations into account as far as possible," emphasized Minister of State for Culture Neumann at the time.
Official start of construction was four years ago. The state of Berlin provided the land, and the federal government covered the costs of 2.8 million euros. After Karavan's disagreements with Berlin's building administration, the federal government also became the project's builder. Like the other memorials, it is now cared for by the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
More clearly than some observers believed, the memorial also took on current explosive power: Refugee organizations have been criticizing massive discrimination against Roma in the Balkans for months now. They also warn against "racist agitation" against the minority in Germany. They also object to politicians repeatedly pushing to reintroduce visa requirements for Serbian and Macedonian citizens. The idea is to stop the "massive influx" from the countries.
With this in mind, Central Council Chairman Romani Rose expressed the hope "that this memorial will have a symbolic effect beyond Germany's borders. It is outrageous that the everyday life of many Sinti and Roma almost 70 years after the Holocaust is characterized by exclusion and often by violence. Rose calls for resistance to the fact that, in addition to Jews, Sinti and Roma are repeatedly used as scapegoats for economic and social upheavals.